Minnesota Dragonfly

Lance-tipped Darner

Aeshna constricta

The Lance-tipped darner is found throughout Minnesota. Because of its size, color, and the general shape of its thoracic stripes It can easily be confused with a number of other darner species. The Lance-tipped Darner and Shadow Darner are the only Minnesota darners with a spike on their claspers

Identification

Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.8 inches
  • Eyes green over blue
  • Pale yellow-green face with no crossline
  • Front thoracic stripe notched with a rearward flag extending from the top
  • Rear thoracic stripe is very wide at the top, with a rearward flag extending down to the edge of the abdomen
  • Legs black with brown on the femur
  • Abdomen brown with blue top spots and pale blue side spots
  • Wedge style claspers with a spike extending down from the cerci

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Females come in blue, green, and yellow forms
  • Yellow form may have a lot of yellow in wings
  • Abdomen section 9 larger than section 8 because of large ovipositor
  • Cerci are lance shaped and as long as section 9 and 10 combined
  • Large square shaped top spot on segment 9, larger than those on segment 8

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Similar Species

Shadow Darner: The Lance-tipped Darner and Shadow Darner are the only two Darners in Minnesota that have a spike extending from the cerci of the male's claspers. The Shadow Darner is typically a bit larger but this is usually only noticeable in a side by side comparison. Shadow Darners are typically found in dark shadowed habitats where Lance-tipped Darners prefer the sun.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Green-striped Darner: Lance-tipped Darners are typically slightly smaller than Green-striped Darners but this is usually only noticeable in a side by side comparison. With a variety of different colored forms and similar shaped thoracic stripes it is difficult to distinguish between the two species especially in flight or from a distance.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Canada Darner: Lance-tipped Darners and Canada Darners are about the same size. With a variety of different colored forms and similar shaped thoracic stripes it is difficult to distinguish between the two species especially in flight or from a distance.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Natural History

Behavior

Like most Darners the Lance-tipped Darner is a strong active flier. Typically males patrol the shoreline flying until dawn when they often join mixed species feeding swarms. Females look much like males and can also often be seen flying over the water. When at rest Lance-tipped Darners prefer to perch in tall grass in comparison to other darners that prefer tree trunks.

Habitat

Marshy ponds, small lakes with marshy shorelines, and bog pools

Reproduction

Copulation typically occurs in low vegetation near the water. The females oviposits eggs one at a time in the stems of aquatic vegetation such as cattails and sweet flag. Eggs are often laid as high as three feet above the water at breeding ponds that dry up many years.

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.